Kaitlin's Story

Kaitlin - Wound CareLeukemia. It's a word no parent wants to hear. But the diagnosis was just the beginning of a long road for Kaitlin Hayward. Now 12, Kaitlin was 5 years old when she was diagnosed. After several rounds of chemotherapy to treat the cancer in her blood, she went into remission until last summer, when her family learned the disease was back.

Kaitlin’s doctor recommended a bone marrow transplant to boost her blood cells, but the procedure took its toll on the girl’s body.

Among other complications, Kaitlin had transplant induced hemorrhagic cystitis (severe bladder inflammation with uncontrolled bleeding). Her doctors tried everything they could think of to treat the bleeding but nothing worked. Just to keep her alive, Kaitlin required 1-2 blood transfusions every week. In a final effort to save Kaitlin and restore her quality of life, her pediatric oncologist, Rolla Abu-Arja, MD, referred her to the experts at the Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center at UH Bedford Medical Center.

Why Hyperbaric Medicine?

UH Bedford Medical Center is the only University Hospitals facility to offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy, which involves people breathing pure oxygen inside a pressurized chamber. The high concentrations of oxygen in the bloodstream boost the body’s natural ability to heal itself by making new blood vessels and improving circulation. “It is an advanced cellular healing technology,” says David Rowe, MD, medical director at the center. “It has very specific uses but can be a last option when nothing else works.”

Kaitlin’s case was unique. She didn’t have a traditional, external wound but her doctor recognized the possibility that hyperbaric oxygen therapy might help to stem the bleeding she was experiencing on the inside – the uncontrolled bleeding that was keeping the 12 year old from living her life. Tied to a regimen of transfusion after transfusion, Kaitlin’s prognosis was not a positive one. Her family realized that hyperbaric oxygen therapy might be her last hope and brought her to see Dr. Rowe and his team.

Our specialists worked together to provide the best possible care for Kaitlin, says Rowe. “She became part of our tight-knit family,” he adds.

Kaitlin’s mother, Kelly Hayward, noticed the closeness on the first day she brought her daughter to the center. “Everybody was wonderful,” she says. “When we came in for the consultation, we were surrounded by a sea of smiling faces. Kaitlin’s comfort was important to them.”

Doctors treated Kaitlin with a combination of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and KGF (keratinocyte growth factor), which was given through an IV to repair her bladder.

Treatments take about two hours each and were given daily during the week. Kaitlin had 40 treatments over eight weeks, and her mom knew it was likely their last hope. It worked.

Today, Kaitlin’s bladder is healed, and she’s enjoying the activities a 12-year-old should – swimming, spending time with friends and watching movies. The Haywards see her recovery as more than just great care. To quote Kaitlin’s mom, “It’s a miracle.”

Award-Winning Wound Care

The Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center at UH Bedford Medical Center recently earned the Center of Distinction award from Healogics Inc., the world’s leading wound care management company.

The award is based on patient satisfaction scores and wound-healing rate. In the past year, the center has received a 91 percent wound-healing rate and a patient satisfaction rate of 92 percent.

Help with Healing

If your wound has not begun to heal in two weeks or is not completely healed in six weeks, or you just want someone to ‘take a look’ call the Wound Care and Hyperbaric Medicine Center at UH Bedford Medical Center at 440-735-4755. You do not need a referral from your physician to schedule a consultation.